Cream Cheese

Mrs. Wheelbarrow's Rugelach

October 28, 2014
3 Ratings
Photo by Christopher Hirsheimer and Melissa Hamilton
  • Makes 16 cookies
Author Notes

If I could only eat one cookie for the rest of my life, it would be rugelach. There is so much to love about these rolled-up nuggets. If you’re anything like me and might have a hard time stopping at one, two, or three, store the unbaked cookies in an airtight container in the freezer, then remove just what you want to eat and bake (a toaster oven works fine). Make the cream cheese dough ahead; it needs to chill well, or it will be challenging under the rolling pin. Work quickly when rolling, slicing, and forming the cookies to keep the dough cold. Then freeze the unbaked rugelach for another few hours. They must be chilled before baking, or the very rich dough will lose its shape in the oven.

The filling recipe uses only preserves, nuts, and bread crumbs, so the flavor possibilities are endless. Omit the nuts if you wish, but I like them for the texture they bring to this sweet, silky, crunchy treat. Any preserves will work, but the best results come from smooth-textured jam. If you want to use a jam that is loose and runny or has large chunks of fruit, blend, chop, or crush the fruit and warm the jam to create a thicker, smoother texture, then cool completely before using. —MrsWheelbarrow

What You'll Need
  • For the dough:
  • 4 ounces cream cheese
  • 4 ounces unsalted butter
  • 4 1/4 ounces all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • For the filling:
  • 1/4 cup toasted nuts (see suggestions below)
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons soft, fresh bread crumbs
  • 4 ounces any preserves (see suggestions below)
  • 1 egg yolk, beaten
  1. To make the dough, cut the butter and cream cheese into 1-inch cubes. Place the butter, cream cheese, flour, and salt in a metal bowl and freeze for 30 minutes.
  2. Transfer the chilled ingredients to a food processor and pulse until the dough forms a shaggy ball, about 20 pulses. Alternatively, cut the butter and cream cheese into the flour with a pastry cutter or two table knives to combine. Scrape the moist, sticky dough onto a floured countertop and form into a 6-inch disk. Wrap in wax paper and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or overnight.
  3. Line a baking sheet with parchment. In a small bowl, mix together the nuts, sugar, and bread crumbs.
  4. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough into a 9-inch circle. Spread the jam across the surface of the dough, leaving a 1/2-inch border. Sprinkle the nut mixture over the jam.
  5. Using a sharp knife or pizza cutter, cut the disk into 16 wedges. Starting from the wide end of the long triangle, roll each segment up and press on the pointy end to seal. Place seam side down on the baking sheet and place the pan in the freezer for at least 2 hours. (Once frozen hard, the rugelach can be transferred to zip-lock bags and kept frozen for up to 6 months.)
  6. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Brush the egg yolk gently on the tops of the cookies. Place another baking sheet under the cookie-filled sheet. (Stacking will keep the rugelach from burning on the bottom.) Bake for 22 to 25 minutes. The nuts and jam will have squished out a little and be a little messy; that’s okay. The bottoms of the rugelach should be caramelized, not burned. Transfer to a rack to cool completely, about 1 hour.
  7. Stored between layers of wax paper in a tightly covered container, rugelach keep well for up to 3 weeks.
  8. • Raspberry jam and macadamia nuts • Apricot jam and almonds • Plum jam and hazelnuts • Pear jam and walnuts • Bacon-Onion Jam and salted roasted peanuts

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Emily Dey
    Emily Dey
  • Christina Rogers Wouters
    Christina Rogers Wouters
  • Miss Hangrypants
    Miss Hangrypants
  • Miranda Johanning
    Miranda Johanning
  • MrsWheelbarrow
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18 Reviews

Emily D. November 14, 2016
I tried my first rugelach last Christmas and was sad they didn't turn out like my favorite local bakery. Thanks for the key tricks like refreezing & double cookie sheets--I think it will fix my problems! My coworkers ate all of last year's without complaint (apricot / walnut and cherry / almond were my flavor combos).
Lauren W. January 4, 2015
I've made these a few times now, and the only downside is the refrigerating/freezing time, which means you have to plan ahead. Also, although the cookies turn out great, I never get anything approaching a "shaggy ball," and certainly not after 20 pulses. I wind up with either just a grainy dry mix if I go with the 20 pulses, or a bunch of little balls that eventually clump together if I continue to pulse. For the grainy mix, I still just dump it out onto wax paper and allow the heat of my hands to get it to clump into dough. Any insight into what I'm doing wrong? Again, both untimely work and the cookies are great, but I'd certainly like to know.
MrsWheelbarrow January 5, 2015
Hi Lauren, Thank you so much for your comments. I wonder if my food processor has a super duper motor? Hm. I've made the dough in a stand mixer very successfully, too. Your solution is great. Just use the heat of your hands to come together. I think the cookies work best, and are easiest to handle with a lot of refrigerating between steps. If you work quickly, you can certainly fill and roll the cookies and slip them into the oven right away. If the dough warms too much, they will spread, but even that is no tragedy.
nickelhn December 10, 2014
I was just getting ready to search the internet on whether I could do that neat little trick of freezing raw rugelach and then bake from frozen, and there you were with my answer! Thanks so much for the recipes and the wisdom. Merry Christmas!
piccantedolce November 6, 2014
Do these freeze well? I'm doing a dessert swap with my freezer meal swap group and might like to make these.
MrsWheelbarrow November 6, 2014
They freeze wonderfully -- either before or after they are baked. Also, the dough itself freezes well.
Christina R. November 6, 2014
It says see nut and perseve suggestions below, but u don't see any suggestions?
MrsWheelbarrow November 6, 2014
You're right! Sorry - I fixed it. Last item in the list of instructions.
Miss H. November 6, 2014
oops. i just read the note that was minimized above! I guess I will freeze them! Thank you for the recipe!
Miss H. November 6, 2014
do i have to freeze it for 2 hours before baking? I'm not quite sure! These look delicious!
Miranda J. November 5, 2014
These seem really similar to an old family recipe that came from Croatia with my great-grandmother. The are MUCH more complicated and we dredge them in powdered sugar to finish so they're our Christmas cookies (:
MrsWheelbarrow November 5, 2014
What a nice idea!
Lmkltk November 5, 2014
My Grandma taught me to roll the dough out on a sugar-dusted surface.
Brewingliberally November 5, 2014
I just made a Danish with cream cheese and spiced cherry jam filling...if I had see this first I would have made time!
Harvey C. November 5, 2014
Is it just me or should step 7 be in fact the first?
MrsWheelbarrow November 5, 2014
Ohmygosh! Yes, you're right. I'm fixing it RIGHT NOW.
Bevi November 5, 2014
I made some fig cognac jam that I think will be perfect for these!
MrsWheelbarrow November 5, 2014
That sounds stupendous!